Trail Rangers do lots of different trail projects: promote trails, answer questions, clip back vegetation, ride trails (and write the word “trails” a lot). Why do Trail Rangers spend some of their time removing trash? We want more folks wanting to feel trails are welcoming and use trails. People don’t like walking or biking through trash – it’s not fun to look at or be around. Studies have found that litter on trail decreased trail use by 20%. Trails are appealing for a number of reasons but being outside in the natural world is a common one – does this look appealing to you? Another study found that how folks perceive safety is influenced by trash – eliminating litter from an image increased the perception of safety 30%. It’s hard to encourage more folks to enjoy trails if they feel unsafe or that it’s not a pleasant place to spend their time. Trash can cause problems. It’s much easier to pick up a whole glass bottle just off the trail now before it breaks and causes flat tires. And it’s no fun to fall because you hit a carryout container just right and then–whee, sideways! We want a healthy environment. All of our trails are part of the Anacostia River watershed, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Trash in the river has been so bad in recent years that the Anacostia River was declared “impaired by trash” by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. Whatever we don’t pick up will eventually likely go into the bay and from there into the ocean (unless it’s picked up by a few trash traps or the DC Water skimmer but they only make a dent). Plastic and manmade materials are not part of the ocean ecology – let’s keep them out!Also lots of other organizations are involved in trash reduction efforts so if you’re not near a Trail Ranger trail, there is probably something going on close to you!
The DC Trail Ranger team has been up and running this year since the beginning of April – riding the Metropolitan Branch, Anacostia River, Marvin Gaye and Suitland Parkway trails doing outreach and maintenance with our distinctive green bikes and yellow trailers (say hi if you see us!). We’ve organized guided bike tours, joined massive festivals, popped up with ice water on hot days, and played hundred of games of trail etiquette trivia. But in between the bigger events, the team is out on the trails keeping them safe and passable – glass removed, vegetation trimmed, trash gone. What does 275 hours of trail cleanup look like?
The Suitland Parkway Trail fits snugly between the fast-moving Parkway and the hillside, connecting Barry Farm and the Anacostia Metro to Douglas, Bueno Vista and Garfield Heights. One of DC’s shortest at 1.5 miles long, the trail slopes up gently compared to the surrounding hills, and could be a great feeder trail from the neighborhoods down to the Metro, South Capitol Bridge and beyond. Three years of regular light maintenance has improved the trail – the trail is consistently passable thanks to the trail rangers hours spent chopping back vegetation, and removing trash & glass. More people are choosing to use the trail —we regularly see folks now. But the trail made leaps and strides this week thanks to two intensive workdays of Trail Rangers and DDOT Urban Forestry. Bucket trucks, chain saws, weed whackers, a whole bevy of pole saws and loppers, and a bunch of thank yous from neighbors and trail users – the passable trail corridor was moved 4 feet away from the trail bed and 15 feet high. As one trail user said, “that really needed to be done!”
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been taking a close look at some exciting developments for trails in DC and the surrounding Washington Area. In September and early October, we invited trail neighbors and curious advocates on three trail tours (each on our advocacy priority list) to see the trails, build some context, and explore options for moving forward with rehabilitation and extensions. In case you missed the tours, read on a for a recap. While many of these projects are progressing forward, continued public support and pressure are crucial to seeing them through. Feeling like you missed all the fun? Join us on November 15 for our Future Trails Celebration to celebrate our region’s trail’s and learn about the next ones. This trail tour series, and our ongoing trail advocacy work, was made possible thanks to the generous support of REI!
Metropolitan Branch TrailTraveling by foot, we toured the future northern route of the Met Branch Trail between the Fort Totten and Takoma Metro Stations, now in design. This phase will connect directly to the existing trail on John McCormack Road and extend the trail almost to the DC boundary through a combination of wide sidepaths, separated trail, and possible on street improvements. Click here for more details.
Southeast DC’s Unbuilt TrailsThis time by bike, we toured two of the District’s existing trails in Ward 8, experiencing the needs, barriers, and possibilities for better mobility by bike and foot. In particular, we discussed the new South Capitol St. Trail, the Oxon Run Trail Rehabilitation, and improved connection ot the Suitland Parkway Trail coming with the Douglas Bridge replacement project.
Washington Baltimore & Annapolis TrailFor our third field trip, we took a leisurely ride on the WB&A Trail, a rail trail that runs more than 10 miles in two sections between PG and Anne Arundel Counties in Maryland. With quiet wooded stretches and luxurious bridges and tunnels, this trail is a delight to ride and would be a crucial connection from DC to Baltimore and Annapolis, if the ambitious plan is completed. More on extension possibilities to come.
With hard work on the Met Branch and Anacostia Riverwalk Trails behind us, the Trail Ranger team is getting in gear for our lesser known trails east of the Anacostia. With the Riverwalk Trail as a backbone of the network, the Suitland Parkway Trail and Marvin Gaye Trail serve as feeder lines from the Maryland line. Come ride the trails with us and lend a hand keeping them in shape. Suitland Parkway Trail Cleanup & Ride Saturday, July 12, 10 am – 1 pm Join us Rangers for a personal introduction and cleanup on one of DC’s least known bike trails. Through a little hard work, you’ll get a ground level perspective of where the trail goes, its challenges, and the future improvements we are advocating for. Learn more and Sign Up Marvin Gaye Trail Cleanup & Ride Sunday, July 27, 11 am – 2 pm Roll up your sleeves and join the team in a community cleanup and ride on the Marvin Gaye Trail. Running the length of Marvin Gaye Park, the trail follows the Watts Branch creek for nearly 2 miles as it winds through quiet, green neighborhood streets from Minnesota Ave. to the Maryland line. Come discover how to get there, help us keep it looking fresh, and discover why you might want to come back. Learn more and Sign Up
Riverwalk Trail Gets Some AttentionLast Saturday morning, our Trail Ranger team and some eager volunteers gathered in River Terrace park on the east bank of the Anacostia River to give the trail some much needed help.. In just under two hours, our crew greatly improved the Benning Road bridge crossing, trimming back overgrown vegetation, clearing sight lines, and removing glass. As the northernmost river crossing on the Riverwalk, the Benning Road bridge is often abuzz with bike and foot traffic. Thanks to our efforts, this crossing is a bit roomier, making for a more enjoyable ride. With the hard work done, the group enjoyed a relaxed spin around the trail, highlighting some of the trail connections, nearby attractions, and the 4.5 mile Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens trail extension, now under construction. Every week, we’re highlighting the work of WABA’s Trail Ranger program, an effort to increase use and upkeep of multi-use trails in the District. Check back for big trail updates, achievements, and ways to get involved with our cleanups and events. Click here for more about our Trail Ranger program.
Anacosita Waterfront Initiative (AWI) blog. Phase 1 of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will now include a trail connection from reconstructed bridge along the northern side of the traffic circle and parkway to Firth Sterling Avenue SE and the Anacostia Metro Station. Bicycle and pedestrian trail user will bi-pass the high speed I-295 exit ramp through a new tunnel underneath the road. The large yellow arrow on the rendering above points to the new trail tunnel. Phase 2 of the bridge project will finish the direct trail connection from the Anacostia Metro Station to the existing trail head. WABA has been engaged for over three years with DDOT on the bridge replacement planning process. This victory concludes months of advocacy and petition efforts after we raised the trail connectivity issue back in January. The advocacy work on this bridge project in line with our Southeastern Trail Corridor advocacy priority. We are encouraged by the many improvements and updates to bicycle and pedestrian access that have been made. The current design reflects the District’s multi-modal vision. You can learn more about the entire bridge project on the AWI website and watch the updated video of the proposed bridge below. When complete, the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will be the best bicycling bridge in the region and it will be a major connection in the regional trail network. While we wait for the new bridge and trail connection, join us on July 12th for a clean-up event of the Suitland Parkway Trail with our Trail Rangers. Sign up online here. And here’s a neat video rendering of the new bridge:The new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will include a direct, safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian trail connection to the Suitland Parkway Trail. DDOT announced the change to the bridge plans yesterday via the the